– by Jamie Hill
When you hear that someone has been diagnosed with cancer, you don’t immediately think about the impact to their fertility. Yet for the 70,000 Americans between the ages of 15 and 39 who are diagnosed with cancer each year, the potential impact to their reproductive health is a top concern. Many of them haven’t even considered building a family or whether or not they want to have children of their own someday. Suddenly they are faced with a type of cancer that may affect their reproductive organs or a treatment regimen that could jeopardize their future fertility.
Many are asked to make some very big life decisions in a very short amount of time. Most people have never thought about freezing eggs or sperm. They’ve never heard of a “reproductive endocrinologist” (fertility specialist), and they don’t know where to start looking for one.
They can start here.
Our Cancer Navigation Services offers LIVESTRONG Fertility, a program that aims to educate cancer patients about cancer and fertility issues and increase access to discounted fertility preservation services.
LIVESTRONG Fertility partners with over 400 fertility centers across the country to provide at least a 25% discount on fertility preservation services for men and women who are diagnosed with cancer and meet a certain income criteria. Additionally, women who are approved for the program receive a free round of pre-cycle fertility medications through our partnership with EMD Serono, Inc. When an individual reaches out to our Navigation Services, we can help them locate a center in their area that partners with LIVESTRONG Fertility so that they can get started on the preservation process.
Any patient, loved one or health care provider can access the LIVESTRONG Fertility applications for men and women online at www.livestrong.org/fertility. Once we receive a completed application, it only takes 1-2 business days to approve a client for the program and the medications for women will ship overnight for arrival the next morning. We know that patients are often delaying treatment to preserve their fertility, so time is precious. We work to process applications quickly so cancer patients have time to preserve.
LIVESTRONG Fertility also has online tools like our Fertility Risk Tool and our Family Building Options Tool. These tools provide basic knowledge for cancer patients to start a discussion about fertility and cancer with their health care team, prior to treatment.
And for anyone who needs help keeping their list of health care providers organized, I encourage you to check out our LIVESTRONG Guidebook. The guidebook has two volumes that contain helpful information and journal spaces that can be a resource to you during the cancer journey.
Let us be the cure for, “I don’t know the first thing about cancer and fertility.”
Visit www.livestrong.org/fertility or call our Navigation Center (1-855-220-7777) to speak to someone today about your fertility concerns and any other physical, practical and emotional concerns you or a loved one may have during the cancer journey.